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From the Archives: HSC writers sample the world of work

FourFourTwo – Jules Delay (OH 2012)

Three of the HSC’s regular contributors have all taken a real life interest in sports journalism: a passion and career path for a surprising number of postgraduates every year. We all enjoyed work experience with different companies and have detailed our findings to provide an insight into the world of sport.

My work experience was with the football magazine FourFourTwo, my childhood mecca of sports journalism. As an opinionated and passionate sports fan (translation: mouthy little git), I pursued what seemed to be the greatest job possible, writing for one of the world’s leading football magazines.

After pestering the editor with requests for work experience, I was finally able to meet the men who write what I consider my Bible. The office pleasant, the computer flashy, and the work mainly consisting of looking for YouTube videos of great goals to go on their website, I was in heaven.

I wrote articles for the website, talked to the other opinionated and passionate sports fans, and argued the toss over every footballing debate under the sun.

I did learn some useful tips during my time there, and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, however, would I recommend it as a career? No.

After a week I was tired, overwrought, and thoroughly sick of the sight of the BBC Sport homepage. For the many sports fanatics at Hampton, all I can recommend is this: experience sports journalism for yourself.

You may find it engrossing, brilliant and enjoyable, but you may also find that it ruins one of the true pleasures of your life. There is only one way to find out if you’re cut out for that kind of world, and that’s trying it. It may spark an interest that you will never forget.


Sport Magazine – Alex Cheah (OH 2012)

‘Pool table scores – I’m winning’. This was the response to my questioning of a series of numbers and initials conspicuously board-penned onto the wall of Sportmagazine, where I spent four days of half-term doing work experience.

The corner of my mouth creeps upwards as I smile at the ingenuity of eight grown men (the women, perhaps rightfully, didn’t get involved!) unashamedly logging their performances on the board.

Sport isn’t quite the Bible that some of the more opulent sports magazines can be likened to, but it is a small, weekly, successful magazine that doesn’t take itself too seriously and tries to cover all walks of sporting life.

It distributes for free, making its profit from lucrative and sought-after advertising pages. Nevertheless I looked forward to my experience with anticipation, and was able to draw some conclusions about sports journalism – an industry that I, and I presume many more (intelligent, creative, eloquent, witty adolescents) are considering as a potential career path.

I was greeted by Tony, a funny, honest and generally good guy, who showed me the ropes and asked me to do some research and draft some questions on Rangi Chase – the Kiwi winner of Super League’s ‘Man of Steel’ award, who recently chose to play for England as his adopted country.

As I was researching away, I heard ‘Alex, I’ve just been looking at his interviews on Youtube, he’s really dull, this should be interesting.’ Knowing this, we made our way to the phone in the boardroom fearing the worst. Our fears were duly confirmed. Chase was unanimated, monotonous, and dull. ‘Well that was a shame, wasn’t it?’ summed it up quite nicely.

I wasn’t put off – I guess that if you’re going to interview so many people, some are bound to be devoid of personality.

This was not the case with Stuart Broad. I was asked to accompany another Sport journalist to Trafalgar Square while he promoted Battlefield 3. I was, again, asked to draft some questions for Broad.

We made our way on to the Tube to meet EA representatives in the penthouse of a club. There were Battlefield 3 advertisements all over the shop, an Xbox booth set up, and it felt weird that these guys had gone to so much trouble in hiring the penthouse just for two cricketers to have a quick dabble on their game.

That’s an example of the PR monster that also restricted us from asking too many demanding questions about England’s recent One-Day whitewash in India.

Sport is located in an office block in Hatfields. TalkSPORT broadcasts itself from the floor above. I’m more of a 5Live man myself, so it came as a surprise to see Andy Gray and Richard Keys live on air when I was taken for a look around.

Those with more taste and sensitivity wouldn’t have mentioned the coverage the two received from the press for Gray’s sexist remarks that resulted in the loss of their jobs on Sky Sports, however I blurted out something about whether it was a risk to hire them after they had been battered in the media.

I was told that they were indeed very timid at the start of their tenure and had to be coaxed back into a state where they were broadcasting confidently as themselves.

I made a swift exit from TalkSPORT after my quipping request to get Andy Gray to say ‘take a bow son’ was met with ‘you could but I think he’d probably get quite annoyed.’

Whilst these were the highlights of my experience at Sport, I found the general atmosphere in the office all the more enjoyable. It was relaxed and fun, with various personnel being asked to ‘step outside’ for a best-of-three game of pool.

What struck me about sports journalism is the teamwork required to produce a good issue: Editor, writers, picture editors, design team, public relations. All aspects are required to communicate and work in tandem.

The job is the perfect synthesis of generally easy-hours and exciting interviews, without failing to mention the opportunity to sample some of the most innovative gadget and grooming products.

I did however identify certain potential drawbacks with the field of sports journalism – it involves a fair amount of monotonous ‘hard-yards’ like transcribing interviews and researching obscure facts about obscure people.

I considered that such monotony is inevitable in all careers and my overall opinion on this particular career is that it’s generally exciting and creative. I was, perhaps naively, surprised by the amount of insipid and bland ‘googling’ but ultimately feel that the respective advantages of working at a sports magazine far outweigh the drawbacks.


Sky Sports News – Richard Park (OH 2012)

Osterley – a rural district of West London, the location of the head office of British Sky Broadcasting – the country’s media oligarch. Sports journalism has become a pervasive part of my ambitions post-university and this placement provided a rare insight into the profession.

The lion’s share of Hampton students will have experienced the wonders of Sky Sports News. I therefore anticipate great envy when you read of my week working at Sky News Sport.

Building Sky 1, one of the company’s nine various buildings in the vicinity, is where the news channel is based, with each department located around the two floors with the centre-focus of the studio.

Arriving on Monday morning, nervously looking around the complex to see ‘Sunrise’ being presented by Eamonn Holmes and then three hours of Dermot Murnaghan was quite a start.

The sport desk was not exactly expansive and heaving, which gave it an unperturbed and close-knit feel. Following the formalities, I was greeted at different intervals by various members of the team with overly-cheesy smiles and the simple request for various facts for the newsfeed – something which the average viewer fails to consider.

As the week went on, I was able to prepare ‘VTs’ and ‘grabs’, which are video clips that go alongside the headlines – another seemingly innocuous part of news in general, but in fact, a feature which takes hours to prepare for the five minute hourly slot.

During the placement, I was also fortunate enough to write articles for the online section of Sky News. These pieces were also contracted and used by various media corporations.

The experience itself was extremely worthwhile and insightful, as I was able to see both written and spoken journalism at work, and I suppose sitting next to Sarah-Jane Mee as she presented the news wasn’t the worst thing to have happened!

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